Monday, August 2, 2010
The ISS Heats Up
A spacewalk will be necessary to replace a faulty cooling system on the American side of the International Space Station.
NASA.gov reports that an unscheduled spacewalk will be required to replace a failed ammonia pump module on the International Space Station.
Expedition 24 astronauts Doug Wheelock and Tracy Caldwell Dyson currently are scheduled to start the repairs on the station’s starboard truss Friday. Fellow astronauts Cady Coleman and Suni Williams spent the afternoon in the Johnson Space Center’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory practicing underwater the tasks needed to restore the cooling loop over the course of two spacewalks.
The cooling system is apparently American-built equipment. According to a Florida Today article:
The disabled pump has been at the space station since 2002 and operating fully since just 2006; it was a premature failure. The electrical short is believed to be internal to the pump. Engineers believe a new pump will solve the problem, but there is no guarantee ... If both cooling loops were to fail, the Russian side of the space station would have to carry the entire cooling load. The crew would have just enough time to attempt emergency repairs before, in all likelihood, abandoning ship in Russian Soyuz capsules to return to Earth.
Many of those opposing President Obama's FY 2011 NASA budget proposal have claimed it's wrong to rely on Russian technology because it's inferior. But this incident shows the United States isn't perfect either. That's why it's important to collaborate with other nations, not go it alone.